Once you’ve had your blog for a time, coming up with new topics can be a challenge. After all, once you’ve written 50, 100, 200 posts or more, how on earth do you come out and say something new?
This challenge isn’t limited to long time bloggers either. New bloggers also struggle with coming up with topics that people want to read about.
So how do you do it? Just us one of these eight brainstorming tools below. These tools will help you come up with new ideas consistently, whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve been blogging for years.
#1: Scan RSS Feeds
Download an RSS feed client on your computer or in your smartphone. Then go on a subscribing spree. Subscribe to every blog feed you can find in your industry. Subscribe to at least ten different blogs.
Now anytime you run out of ideas, all you need to do is whip out your RSS reader. Read through some of the things other people are talking about and use it as inspiration.
Of course you should never directly copy someone else’s title. But feel free to use other people’s ideas as stepping stones. You can even steal an idea, as long as you don’t copy the actual words. Just make sure to add your own spin and link to the original source.
#2: Use Google Instant
Use Google’s Instant search tool to come up with ideas for what other people might be interested in. You can learn more about the tool here: http://www.google.com/instant
For example, let’s say you’re in the cooking niche. You could do something like:
Just change out different words and different wordings to come up with a variety of different potential keywords to target.
#3: Use Linkbait Generator
Linkbait Generator (http://linkbaitgenerator.com) is a unique online tool that allows you to create very creative and attention catching titles at the click of a button.
Note that some of these titles probably won’t make sense right out of the gate. Instead, use the ideas and words generated by linkbait generator to source your own title
For instance, typing in “find a job” might land you a headline something like this:
While you might not be able to use this headline on its own, you might instead turn it into something like: 7 Bizarre Ways Looking for a Job Can Get You Fired Instantly.
#4: Browse Old Magazines
If you’re in an industry that’s large enough to have magazines, subscribe to as many of the magazines in your field as you can. In a few months, you should have a big stack of magazines that you can use as idea fodder.
Also, many public libraries keep archived copies of newspapers and magazines. You can literally browse magazines from months or even years ago for free at many major libraries.
Go through these old magazines and look for ideas. Look for things they covered that nobody on the internet is covering.
Print articles often involve a lot more research to write than online content. Print content requires sources, quotes, statistics, verification, etc that online content just doesn’t need. The print world and the internet world are quite different. That’s why it often pays to look in the offline world for inspiration for your online content.
#5: Google Alerts
Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) is a free online system that will alert you by email whenever certain keywords or phrases appear in blogs or news articles. You can use Google Alerts to come up with topics in one or two ways.
First, you can use it as a constant stream of ideas. Just put relatively broad ideas in Google Alerts and set it to email you once a day. Every day, browse through the articles and see what ideas you come up with.
Another way to use Google Alerts is to use it to write cutting edge, timely articles. Use it to monitor your industry. Anytime something changes, anytime breaking news hits the net, anytime something controversial happens, you want to publish a piece of content within hours.
Often time’s the first person to publish content about something is the one who gets all the traffic.
#6: Invite Questions
If you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas, why not have your audience do it for you instead?
A lot of authors find that their best blog posts actually come from their audience rather than from their own minds. After all, if you’re trying to create content that your audience loves, who better to guide you than your audience?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know what your audience wants without asking. Also don’t make the mistake of thinking that what you want to express is always what your audience wants to know about.
Ask. Ask for questions and make blog posts out of them.
For example, Bryan of Panthers.com does this quite well. In addition to asking for questions, he actually outlines the kinds of questions he doesn’t want to receive (“can you get me an autograph?”) and helps guide his audience towards asking useful questions instead.
You can see more about this method: http://www.panthers.com/news/ask-bryan
#7: Critique an Idea, Business, Website, Video or Trend
Look for something outside of you site that you can give your opinion on. For example, you could critique a trend of thinking in your industry. You could critique a video that’s making the rounds. You could also ask your audience to send in their work for critique.
For example, Writerly Rejects creates a lot of content out of having writers send in their pitches for critique. They dissect the pros and cons of the writer’s pitch and use real world pitches to illustrate important lessons on their blog.
You can see this example in action at: http://www.writerlyrejects.blogspot.com/2012/07/pitch-critique-3-4.html
#8: Use Your Subconscious Mind
Your subconscious mind is far, far more powerful than your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind is the part of your mind that can read the thousands of different muscles on someone’s face to determine what they’re feeling. Your subconscious mind retains a copy of every experience you’ve ever had in your life. Your subconscious mind handles “intuition” by parsing data and ideas behind the scenes, working hard on problems without you ever knowing it.
One of the best ways to come up with new blog ideas is to harness the power of your subconscious mind. How do you do that? By thinking intensely about a subject, then completely letting it go.
Spend a bit of time thinking about your blog. Then, go for a walk. Or hit the gym. Or take a nice long bath. Relax and let your subconscious mind work on it. Then, when you come back to it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that ideas flow much more quickly. Alternatively, ideas might just hit you out of the blue as you’re relaxing.
Make sure you carry a notepad with you at all times so you can jot down these ideas. Ideas that aren’t written down are very frequently lost. Don’t overestimate your ability to remember an idea.
Armed with these eight idea-boosting tools, you’ll never have to worry about running out of ideas again. Find one or two tactics that work for you, then return to this list from time to time if you ever get stuck.